Because this section is long, confusing, and a little wordy, hard mechanics will be displayed in bold. However, because of the nature of this section, players are encouraged to read everything, as context is crucial to understanding. In the famous words of Derrida, “There is no outside-text,” or, “nothing exists without context.”
Every character has their abilities to dictate how well they can perform in regards to a certain part of their raw abilities, but that doesn’t even come close to describing how skilled they are in certain fields. After all, simply being huge and muscular doesn’t mean you automatically know how to fight, does it? Merely being incredibly gifted with magic doesn’t necessarily make you an incredible Mage, it just means you have the potential; you must still practice and hone your gifts into something usable, something controllable and predictable. The huge muscly guy might win a fight or two, but sooner or later his luck will run out, and he’ll be trumped by someone who actually knows what they are doing. All of this is where Skills come in.
Skills are used to describe how much time your character has spent practicing and honing a particular set of abilities. The more specific their Skills, the faster they will get better at them—likewise, as their training gets more broad, it will take that much longer to become an expert. Broad, complex fields—like medicine or magic—might take a lifetime to truly master, while more simple, reduced concepts—like how to properly fry a salmon steak—could easily be mastered in a few weeks of practice. FTS seeks to capture that dynamic with its Skills system, and it is that dynamic that players should keep in mind when selecting their Skills.
Skills are qualified by two separate factors: tier and rank. Tier determines how specific the Skill in question is, and is graded on a scale of 1 to 3; 1 being very broad and unspecific, 3 being extremely narrow and specialized. Most Skills tend to be tier 2. Rank measures how far along the character is in that Skill, and has no maximum, but has a minimum of 1. Most Skills tend to stop increasing around rank 12, but there are no rules enforcing this—players are encouraged to take their characters in whatever direction they desire.
For RPG veterans, this is the part where FTS might start to get confusing, so hold on, read carefully, and make sure you understand each section before proceeding.
When first picking up a Skill, the player must determine what it is they want to start training into, and how specific they want their training to be. A Skill’s Tier cannot be increased or decreased once training has begun—a Tier 3 will always be a Tier 3, and if you wished to zoom out, you’d have start over with a new Tier 2 Skill.
For example, Jyoti the Orc wants to be useful as a combat medic. She could choose to start with the Medicine// Training, but that is very broad, and it will take her a long time to get good if she is learning about every aspect of healing, though she will be a true master when she gets there. She decides that she’s not really interested in such a general Training right now, and instead opts to go with Medicine/First Aid/, as she expects that her companions will be getting hurt in a variety of ways. If she wanted to be extra-specific, she could branch into Medicine/First Aid/Broken Bones or Medicine/First Aid/Poison, but she decides that Medicine/First Aid/ will be good enough for now. Since she’s just now starting up the Training, it costs her 1 experience to get the Training to rank 1.
Regardless of tier, Skills always cost 1 experience for the starting Rank. Tier 3 Skills begin at Rank 2, tier 1 and 2 Skills begin at Rank 1.
There is no limit to how many Skills a character may have. Skills can overlap (such as in the example above, if Ruin later on chooses to pick up Combat/Blades/Longswords), in which case both Skills will be added to the test result. Players are encouraged to ask their Storyteller if certain Skills are relevant whenever a test is called for, and be mindful that they may be able to use more than one Training on a particular test.
Which brings us to how Skills actually work: Whenever making a Test in which a character possesses one or more relevant Skill, they may add that Skill’s Rank as a number of successes to the test’s final result. If more than one Skill is relevant, the character must order the Skills from most- to least-relevant. The most relevant adds its full Rank, the second-most relevant adds half its full Rank, the third-most relevant adds one-quarter its full Rank, and so on.
For example, Jyoti needs to gain entry into a crimelord’s tavern with a large, burly bouncer guarding the door. She knows that going toe-to-toe with the massive Orc is simply out of the question, and going up and asking to be let in is likewise not an option. She decides to put her feminine wiles to use, and attempt to fool the bouncer into letting her in. The GM calls for a SOCIAL CONTROL test to confuse the guard into thinking Jyoti is actually a client, and Jyoti asks if she can apply her rank 4 Communicate/Verbal/Bluffing Skill on the test. The GM rules that the Skill is 100% relevant, and tells Jyoti to add 4 successes to her final result.
You get 10 experience to spend only on things that your character would know before they began any real training. These tend to be languages, local knowledge, or a hobby of some type. Also, characters begin play with one Language Skill at rank 4 for free (Language/(language of choice)/Speak), but only for speaking it—they have to train if they want to learn how to read and write!
This section describes the various skills that your character can train into in FTS. Skills are described in their Tier 1 form. Tier 2 versions of the skill will appear in (parenthesis) immediately following the skill’s name.
Innate skills require no training (though characters may still put experience into and advance them if they wish), and will likely be used multiple times by every character throughout the course of the game.
Trained skills require at least 4 hours of training before ranks can be purchased in that skill. Training can be done by any character who has at least 8 ranks in the skill, or by other credible sources (at the Storyteller’s discretion).
(Heavy, Light, Medium) Trained
This skill revolves around the use of armors in combat. For more information regarding Passive and Active Defense, head over to the Combat page. For more information on the various armor types and their penalties and bonuses, please visit the Armory.
- 0 – You always have Disadvantage when fighting in Armor. You take a Penalty to all PHYSICAL Tests made in Armor, in accordance with the Armor Type you are wearing.
- 4 – You no longer automatically suffer Disadvantage when fighting in Armor. While wearing Light or Medium Armor, you are always taking the Passive Defense option, even when you Throw RED or take the Active Defense option (you get to use both). The PHYSICAL penalty for wearing Armor is reduced by 1.
- 8 – While wearing Heavy Armor, you are always taking the Passive Defense option, even when you Throw RED or take the Active Defense option (you get to use both). The PHYSICAL penalty for wearing Armor is reduced by 2 (though it cannot go below 0).
- 12 – The Wound Reduction property of any armor you wear is increased in quality by 1 (e.g., Heavy Armor becomes -5 instead of -4). The PHYSICAL penalty for wearing Armor is reduced by 3 (though it cannot go below 0).
(Axes, Blades, Bows, Cudgels, Off-Hand, Tactics, Thrown, Unarmed) Trained
This skill teaches the use of weapons and shields in Combat, as well as setting up tactical strategies for use in Battle. For more information on weapon Boons, head over to the Armory.
- 0 – You always have Disadvantage when making a Combat Test.
- 4 – You no longer automatically suffer Disadvantage when making a Combat Test.
- 8 – You may use the 1st Boon of any Weapon. When creating a Strategy, you may add 1 success to your Combat/Tactics Final Result for each ally with 8 or more ranks in Combat/Tactics that is aiding you.
- 12 – You may use the 2nd Boon of any Weapon. When determining Advantage for your team, combatants on your team may add their most relevant Legend score (if any) to their Skill contribution.
(Non-Spoken, Perform, Spoken, Written) Innate
This skill revolves around the use of words, writing, body language, and performance to communicate with others.
- 0 – No special bonuses or penalties.
- 4 – You can communicate with people who cannot understand you (don’t share a common language, culture too different for body language to be meaningful, etc), but you do so at Disadvantage.
- 8 – You always have Advantage when making Communicate Tests with someone that can understand you.
- 12 – You never suffer Disadvantage when making a Communicate Test (even if the environment or other conditions would normally require it).
(Alter, Art, Built, Manufacture, Repair) Trained
This skill teaches the creation and alteration of items, including weapons, tools, structures, vehicles, and works of art. This skill also includes making physical repairs and alterations to manufactured or built things.
- 0 – You always have Disadvantage when making a Craft Test.
- 4 – You no longer automatically suffer Disadvantage when making a Craft Test.
- 8 – You always have Advantage when making Craft Tests if you don’t already have Disadvantage.
- 12 – At the price of 5 Vengeance Tokens, on a successful Craft Test (Very Difficult), you can create a Masterpiece. Discuss with your Storyteller what you want your Masterpiece to be, and what effects it has, both in- and out-of-game. Storytellers are encouraged to remember that the final product, if successful, should be a work worthy of only the highest praise, and a true artifact known and recognized the world over.
(Stamina, Resistance, Morale, Shamanism Backlash) Innate
This skill revolves around the ability to withstand and make it through intense, painful, or even damaging situations.
- 0 – No special bonuses or penalties.
- 4 – You always have Advantage when making Endurance Tests if you don’t already have Disadvantage.
- 8 – You never suffer Disadvantage when making a Endurance Test (even if the environment or other conditions would normally require it).
- 12 – Wounds you suffer are automatically decreased in Severity by 1 (a Level 10 Wound automatically becomes a Level 9 Wound.
(Arkhosian, Asur, Burz, Dawi, Druchi, Lovic, Valirauran, Vulcani) Trained
The Language Skill works a little differently than most others. Unlike other skills, it “tops out” at Rank 6, meaning that the character is considered a complete master of the language, and cannot increase their Rank beyond that point. Also, there are only two Tier 3 words to the Language Skill: Literacy, and Speak.
- 0 – You are completely unable to communicate in this language.
- 2 – You are able to communicate in this language, but with difficulty. You always have Disadvantage on any Tests made when communicating in this language.
- 4 – You are completely fluent in this language. You no longer automatically suffer Disadvantage when communicating in this language.
- 6 – You have achieved total mastery of this language, and it has no secrets left for you to uncover. You can never have Disadvantage while communicating in this language.
(Beast, Culture, Region) Trained
This skill revolves around the amassing, recollection, and application of knowledge, in all its forms.
- 0 – You always have Disadvantage when making a Lore Test.
- 4 – You no longer automatically suffer Disadvantage when making a Lore Test.
- 8 – You may add 1 free, additional success to your Final Result whenever making a Test that is relevant to a field in which you possess the appropriate Lore skill.
- 12 – You are always eligible to make a Lore Test, even in situations where the Storyteller would normally not allow it (such as ancient, lost, or forbidden knowledge).
(Divinity, Dragon, Pact, Shamansim, Wizardry) Trained
This skill teaches the use of Magic, in all of its forms. For more detail on the various types of Magic, and the special rules for each, please go to the Magic page.
- Divinity (Blessing, Healing, Morale)
- 0 – You always have Disadvantage when using Divine Magic.
- 4 – You no longer automatically suffer Disadvantage when using Divine Magic.
- 8 – You may now use and put ranks into the Magic/Divine/Protection Skill.
- 12 – Whenever you use Divine Magic to attempt to Heal someone, the difficulty of the Test is now 2x the Severity of the Wound you are attempting to Heal.
- Dragon (Empowerment)
- 0 – You always have Disadvantage when using Dragon Magic.
- 4 – You no longer automatically suffer Disadvantage when using Dragon Magic. You may now use and put ranks into the Magic/Dragon/Breath Skill.
- 8 – You may now use and put ranks into the Magic/Dragon/Suppression Skill.
- 12 – You may now use and put ranks into the Magic/Dragon/Modification Skill.
- Pact (Destruction, Fear, Pain)
- 0 – You always have Disadvantage when using Pact Magic.
- 4 – You no longer automatically suffer Disadvantage when using Pact Magic.
- 8 – You may now use and put ranks into the Magic/Pact/Curse Skill.
- 12 – You may now use and put ranks into the Magic/Pact/Transformation Skill.
- Shamanism (Earth, Plant, Animal, Weather, Sea)
- 0 – You always have Disadvantage when using Shamanism.
- 4 – You no longer automatically suffer Disadvantage when using Shamanism.
- 8 – You may now acquire your 2nd and 3rd Soul.
- 12 – You may now acquire your 4th and 5th Soul.
- Wizardry (Divination, Mending, Necromancy)
- 0 – You always have Disadvantage when using Wizardry.
- 4 – You no longer automatically suffer Disadvantage when using Wizardry.
- 8 – You may now use and put ranks into the Magic/Wizardry/Telekinesis Skill.
- 12 – You may now use and puit ranks into the Magic/Wizardry/Artifact Creation Skill.
(Disease/Poison, Magical Wound, Physical Wound) Trained
This skill teaches the use of medicine, surgery, and first aid to help and heal other characters. For more information on using Medicine on Wounds, head over to the Combat page.
- 0 – You always have Disadvantage when making a Medicine Test.
- 4 – You no longer automatically suffer Disadvantage when making a Medicine Test.
- 8 – You are never at risk of failing a Medicine Test with a Difficulty of Moderate or lower. If your Final Result is below the required number of successes, increase your Final Result until it equals the required number of successes.
*12 – On a successful Medicine Test (Impossible), you can reverse the effects of a wound, injury, disease, or poison, including permanent Penalties or Disadvantage. However, if this Test is made more than 2 days after the effect is initially put in place, you suffer Disadvantage on this Test.
(Dodge, Magical, Mounted, Non-Pedal, Pedal) Innate
This skill revolves around your character moving their body, in one way or another. In situations where your character is running, climbing, flying magically, riding on horseback, or moving a number of other different ways, this is the skill they will use.
- 0 – No special bonuses or penalties.
- 4 – You always have Advantage when making a Movement Test to resist or avoid external attempts to interfere with your movement (such as someone trying to trip or dismount you, weigh you down or distract you while swimming or climbing, etc).
- 8 – You always have Advantage when making Movement Tests if you don’t already have Disadvantage.
- 12 – You never suffer Disadvantage when making a Movement Test (even if the environment or other conditions would normally require it).
(Physical, Magical, Social, Deduction, Memory) Innate
This skill revolves around the character’s awareness of the world around them, as well as their ability to interpret and remember the things they noticed.
- 0 – No special bonuses or penalties.
- 4 – You may make a Sense Test even when the environment or other conditions would not normally allow for it (vision in total darkness, magical detection in a suppression field, etc), but you do so at Disadvantage.
- 8 – You always have Advantage when making Sense Tests if you don’t already have Disadvantage.
- 12 – You never suffer Disadvantage when making a Sense Test (even if the environment or other conditions would normally require it).
(Sneaking, Blending In, Legerdemain) Trained
This skill teaches the use of subterfuge and misdirection to pass without being noticed. Camouflage, hiding, picking locks and pockets—these are all actions covered by this skill.
- 0 – You always have Disadvantage when making a Stealth Test.
- 4 – You no longer automatically suffer Disadvantage when making a Stealth Test.
- 8 – You never have Disadvantage while making Stealth Tests. If a condition would give you Disadvantage on your Stealth Tests, you ignore it.
- 12 – Attempts to notice you while you are making a Stealth Test are always made at Disadvantage. Opponents can never have Advantage when looking for you.